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Ever since DJI released the Air 2S, we have all been discovering its extremely advanced capabilities. In fact, there is so much more technology that we are writing more informative articles than ever. Most drones today are programmed with what is called Intelligent Flight Modes. We all know about Follow Me mode, Waypoints, Active Track, Tapfly, and Tripod mode to mention a few of the most popular.
Has DJI improved Intelligent Flight in the Air 2S?
The Air 2S has upgraded Intelligent Flight so much that they have given the modes new names. FocusTrack mode includes Point of Interest 3.0, Spotlight 2.0, and Active Track 4.0. Hyperlapse mode has Free, Course Lock, Circle, and Waypoint included in the menu. There is the Mastershots mode that keeps your subject in the center of the frame while performing maneuvers. QuickShots mode lists Dronie, Rocket, Circle, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid.
- Point of Interest 3.0
- Spotlight 2.0
- Active Track 4.0.
- Course Lock
Now, let’s get into the fun part and learn what each of these modes does and how to best use them.
How to use FocusTrack mode #
FocusTrack Mode is used to fly manually, or autonomously, to gain the shots you want while keeping your subject at the center of your shot. With the three different sub-modes you can get phenomenal shots whether your subject is stationary, moving, or both.
Be careful the check the field of flight for obstacles, people and safety hazards. The side sensors do not function in FocusTrack mode, so be aware of where you are and what is around you. It is always a good idea to have an observer with you, especially when you are learning.
Spotlight 2.0 #
Let’s start with Spotlight 2.0. This is best used on subjects that are stationary. The item or person will be kept in the center of the screen while you fly around to get all the angles you want.
To use Spotlight 2.0:
- Take off and hover about 5 feet AGL.
- When you enable the camera view, FocusTrack comes on by default.
- Aim the camera toward your subject and have them wave (hand above shoulder level) for the mode to acquire them.
In some of the videos I watched, this seemed a bit difficult to capture. You can also tap on the subject’s image on the screen and draw a box around them. You would do this if your subject is a fixed object.
Click to start recording or taking stills and the camera will keep the subject in the center. You can fly as free as you wish in all directions and your subject will be in the center of your screen wherever you move.
If you do, however, lose the tracking box, the program will exit Spotlight and the drone will hover. You can also press the RTH button on your controller to pause.
ActiveTrack has two sub-modes that can be used. First, you have Trace mode which follows behind your subject as it moves. The drone more or less traces the path that your subject is moving.
Parallel mode, on the other hand, travels alongside your subject maintaining distance and altitude.
In both these modes the front, rear, and bottom sensors are active and will move the aircraft around obstacles and change altitudes to avoid collisions.
To use ActiveTrack:
- Launch and hover so the drone will go into FocusTrack mode.
- After you select your object and draw the tracking box, select ActiveTrack.
- You will be given the Trace or Parallel option.
- Be sure to hit the “go” button.
As the subject starts to move, the drone will follow. This is all autonomous flight. In the menu, you can switch to Parallel and the drone will go to the side of the moving subject and pace along with them. Again, press the RTH button on the controller to pause your flight.
How to use Hyperlapse Mode #
Hyperlapse is a mode that allows you to get videos that look like they are sped up to fast motion. This can always be done by editing your own video on your own software, but that often looks choppy and less professional.
In this Air 2S mode you program in how long you want the final video to be (called length), how often you want the shots to be taken (called interval), and how fast you want the drone to fly (called Max speed).
As you set these parameters the menu box will give you the amount of time that will be needed and how many shots will be taken to complete the project. This is important because you will need to be sure you have enough battery power to finish.
For example, if you want a final video of 5 seconds, and you set your interval at taking a shot every 2 seconds then you will need 4 minutes and 10 seconds and 125 frames for the project.
To use Hyperlapse mode:
- Launch your Air 2S to about 5 ft. AGL
- Access the camera menu
- On the right of your control screen just above the camera button is the mode access button that looks kind of like a film strip, but that is up to your interpretation.
- Push that and a slide-out menu appears that gives you four options on the right side. The bottom choice is Hyperlapse.
- Select Hyperlapse and a short tutorial will appear along with four more options. They are Free, Circle, Course Lock, and Waypoints. Pick the Hyperlapse mode you want.
Free mode is the most difficult to use if you want a good, smooth video. The Free mode does not allow you to have a set target or subject. You fly as you wish as the program takes the shots. Push the big red button to start your video and it will notify you when the process is done.
The difficulty is that if, like the example above, you want a 5-second video taken at a frame every 2 seconds, then you will have to free fly for 04:10 making very slow movements. If you move too quickly the video will be choppy and blurry.
The other modes are all automated and provide much better final products. On the right side, you will see that what was the small film strip button looks different. That is the symbol for the Free mode. Click on that and the Hyperplase menu returns, giving you the other choices.
Circle mode is pretty much what it says.
- Launch and get to the elevation and distance from the subject you desire.
- Center the subject of the video.
- Select circle mode and draw your centering box around your subject.
- A menu will appear for you to select your interval, length, and max speed preferences.
- In circle mode, you also select the direction of rotation.
- Then just press the big red button to start your flight.
Course Lock mode is very similar.
- Press the icon above the big red button to get the Hyperlapse choices back and select Course Lock.
- The program has you place the centering box around your subject but will fly along the path you set, keeping the subject centered in the camera view.
- If your subject is off to the left of your flight, the Air 2S continues to fly in that direction but will rotate to keep the subject centered as you fly past it.
- In the Course Lock menu, you must set the interval, length, and speed just like the other modes, but you also need to lock in the direction of flight. This is on the menu bar. You must press to unlock, fly your desired direction for a few feet, then lock it back in.
- Push the big red button and off the drone goes.
Waypoints is the last of the Hyperlapse sub-modes and programs the same way as the waypoint program in all the DJI drones.
- Open the menu
- Select Waypoints and the menu box will appear
- Set your center point, elevation, and position.
- Press the big red button and the drone returns to the starting point and flies the path you have set.
The difference with Hyperlapse Waypoints is that it takes stills at the interval you set, then when it finishes it stitches together the stills into fast motion video.
How to use Mastershots #
Mastershots is a program that uses your selected subject and runs a programmed flight pattern that takes video and stills, then puts together a finished product that you can view when it is done. Make sure you set up in a wide-open area with limited obstacles.
On your control screen just above the shutter button is a menu button for Mastershots. When you first press it, you will get a short video on what this mode is about and how to activate it. You can sweep it away and proceed if you are ready.
- Drag your finger to surround your subject.
- A sub-menu will appear to give you the option of how tight you want your shot to be. As you are making this setting, you will be shown how much time the flight will take.
- Just push the start button and the drone will set its own distance and altitude then go through a set pattern and takes several shots. This is all autonomous. The Mastershots program has set angles and altitudes and shoots the entire landscape.
- When the flight is complete, the Air 2S will return to its starting point and hover.
- The program will then edit and produce a video of everything it just flew and show you what has been recorded.
- You can add music or narrative with various editing software to finish the video the way you would like.
How to use Quickshots #
The Quickshot mode is an automated flight program where you center and draw a box around your subject then click on one of six patterns. Push the start button and the drone flies that pattern and returns to the starting position while recording a video.
- After launching your Air 2S and attaining an appropriate altitude, find the Film Strip icon above the shutter button and press it to get the slide-out menu.
- Select the Quickshots button and the menu will give you six choices of flight.
- Select the pattern choice you want, draw the box around your subject, then select the distance you want the drone to fly away from your subject.
- Once the pattern is flown it will return to the starting point. Because these are autonomous flights, be sure your flight area is clear of obstructions to avoid a crash.
- On the right side is a green start button. Guess what happens when you push it.
The Dronie pattern starts where you set the drone on your subject. Push start and the drone flies back and up until it reaches your preset distance, then flies back to where it started.
Rocket mode starts in front of your subject then when you initiate the flight, goes straight up, rotating the camera down in order to keep the subject in the center. When it reaches the altitude you programmed, it comes back down to the place it started, keeping the subject centered.
Circle mode flies an even clockwise or counterclockwise circle 360 degrees around the subject at the distance and altitude you placed the drone before you pushed the start.
Helix pattern flies in an ever-rising circle until it reaches the altitude of your choosing, then circles back down to the original start point.
The Boomerang pattern does just that. Fly the drone to the starting position you want and when you start, the drone flies an oval shape, going back to your set distance, around 360 degrees, then back in to the subject.
Asteroid mode is a bit more involved. After centering your subject and selecting your distance, you push the start button. The Air 2S will fly backward and up till it reaches the set distance, but now the drone will stop and begin taking a set of panoramic photos adjusting the gimbal up and down and rotating 360 degrees. When the program is finished snapping all the shots it will return to you and produce a video that appears to fly away from you until it is above the earth and turns the video into a globe-shaped, 3D shot. Pretty cool.
I know that it is kind of difficult to picture what these videos look like when they are finished by just reading my descriptions. The best way, of course, is to get your Air 2S and practice each of the Intelligent Flight Modes for yourself.